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Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's June!

I turned the calendar today, and noticed that we have reached the month which officially announces the beginning of summer! (Confession: I even found some Christmas greenery today that somehow meshed fairly well into the drab spring we've been having.) Needless to say, I'm happy the kids are home on their school break...even though I will seethe with jealousy at times about the mothers who get to stay home with their brood. But I made my choice to "lean in," as Ms. Sandberg would say. So, I'll make the best of it.

The kids have already been leaning in on their own this summer. Besides their daily chores (which they tend to gloss over fairly quickly without much elbow grease), they are also working for their grandparents and caring for their new kittens...when it occurs to them. Alex works in my mother's shop, and seems to be a very conscientious employee. (Of course fashion tends to be fun sort of a job, so how can she not be?) And Cole has been learning a thing or two about motors as my father's apprentice, managing to squeeze a few bucks out of him, as well as plenty of trips to the DQ. But at least these kids are taking a break from their electronics. Hallelujah.

Speaking of breaks, I'm also on a bit of a break myself–having just finished my first Gotham Writer's Workshop which I found super fun. (How's that for a tantalizing description?) Anyway, get ready for another one of my assignments, a short story titled "The Dinner." I hope you enjoy reading... AND I hope your summer is filled with lots more reading, and, of course, sunny baseball games!

The Dinner

“Nana? Papa?” 
Hunger pangs evaporated the moment Laura entered the apartment. A full-court press of garlic, with a hint of dog piss, enveloped her. A barking, obese Chihuahua trampled over to sniff her out.
As she bent down to pat the the wiry terrier, he growled upon her touch.
“Taco Bell! How many times you gonna show me your teeth?” After a a few strategic scratches behind the ear, the dog stretched its legs on Laura. “Now I’m your best friend?” Lifting the pet into her arms, she wrinkled her nose. “Smells like we need to wash the spring thaw out your coat, mister.”
She walked into the galley kitchen to find her grandparents, preparing for dinner.
“There she is.” Grandpa Pete looked up from his newspaper, glancing at the clock. “Just starting to wonder about you.” He pulled himself up to lay the paper in a heap of other papers in a corner of the room.
“She’s not one bit late!” Grandma Susie said, coming over with a mitt on her hand, to kiss Laura on the forehead. “I told you to come around...7:00, didn’t I?”
Nana had told her 6:30, but Laura was unsure if her grandmother was making an excuse for her, or had simply forgotten what time she was to be there. Laura smiled in agreement. Laura’s parents would be mortified if they knew how late she had shown up to a planned meal with her grandparents. But Laura’s parents weren’t around anymore. And sometimes her shifts ran late.
Grandma Susie stepped back, eyeing the dog. “Did Mitzi give you a hard time? That dog has been barking so much lately.”
“Mitzi!” Grandpa Pete shouted. “That dog died ten years ago. You mean Taco Bell. That’s Taco Bell.”
Grandma Susie ignored the comment and went back to the oven. “Now. Let’s get this meal on the table.”
Laura put the dog down to wash her hands to help set up. While Grandpa Pete started to gather plates and forks, Grandma Susie opened the oven door and stared, vacantly.
“Nana?” Laura stood next to her grandmother. The oven air wafted its garlicky scent, stinging her eyes. “Should we pull out the roast?
“Oh, yes! Doesn’t it smell delightful!” 
Laura took the mitts out of her grandma’s hands, to pull the roaster out of the oven. As soon as she grabbed hold of the pot, she lifted it with more ease than she should have.
She set the pot on the stove and opened the lid to find garlic cloves, onion slices, and baby carrots. No roast. 
“How does it look?” Grandma Susie asked.
Taking a fork, Laura stabbed a carrot and tossed the steaming vegetable in her mouth. Laura blinked a few times, her eyes watering from the burning, sweetness dissolving in her mouth. “Carrots. Yummy.”  
She watched her grandpa filling up water glasses. He kept his eyes focused on the task, his hands slightly quivering. 
Laura hugged her Nana, feeling the loose skin, wrapped around her fragile frame. She wondered how many times Nana had forgotten to cook, or had forgotten to add the roast, and how many times Papa had never said anything. Then she looked to see the dog crunching his overflowing dish of dog food.
“I have an idea,” Laura said, letting go of her grandmother, and taking her grandfather’s trembling hand as he placed napkins on the table. “Let’s go out to eat. I’m tired of roast.” 
Grandpa Pete glanced to the oven. Then he nodded, his eyes heavy. “You know a cafĂ© with good coffee? I could use some good coffee.”
“I do.” Laura turned to look at her grandmother who was giving Taco Bell more food. “We might need to stay up for awhile, Papa. And talk. I think we need to talk.”
Grandpa Pete made his way to his wife, who was now kneeled over, scratching her dog’s ears. He lifted her up, leading her out of the kitchen. “Sweetie? Taco doesn’t need anymore food. But we’re going out now. Laura’s taking us out to eat.”
Grandma Susie smiled at her husband. “Oh? That sounds lovely. We don’t go out much anymore. Do we?”

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